British Columbia·Photos

East Van rallies to save Crab Park from planned Port of Vancouver expansion

East Vancouver residents gathered at Crab Park to protest plans that would obscure the view from the only waterfront park in the Downtown Eastside as the Port of Metro Vancouver mulls a plan to expand the Centerm Terminal.

Protesters say view from park would be obscured by $320 million Centerm Terminal expansion

People gathered on Saturday, June 11, 2016 to oppose a planned expansion of the Port of Metro Vancouver's Centerm Terminal because of the potential impact on Vancouver's Crab Park. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

In 1989 Don Larson was part of the Crab Water for Life Society that lobbied to have Crab Park opened in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Now he's mobilising people again to save its integrity.

"It's very special to me, my heart is here," he said on Saturday at a rally to oppose Port of Metro Vancouver's proposal to expand Centerm Terminal, the park's industrial neighbour. "It's sacred for some people. There's even whales that come in here from time to time."

Don Larson with the Crab Water for Life Society fought to have Crab Park established in 1989. He's worried an expansion of the Centerm Terminal would impact water quality and ocean life. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

The port authority is proposing a $320-million expansion of the Centerm container terminal in Vancouver's inner harbour that would extend the terminal westward as well as reconfigure the terminal's road and rail access.

The port says the proposed changes will boost terminal capacity by two-thirds but adds that nothing is final yet.

Vancouver-East MP Jenny Kwan does not believe the expansion should take place, although the Port of Metro Vancouver says it plans to do more public consultation. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

"So if and when the project does go to the final application stage there will be plenty of opportunities for more consultation," said Robyn Crisanti with the port.

"And it is absolutely an important aspect of the project. A lot of people may not realize that the federal mandate of a port authority is to handle Canada's trade but also to protect the environment and consider local communities. So it's a critical part of our process to consider community feedback."

Vancouver-East MP Jenny Kwan has met with port authorities to voice concerns about the project which she says will obscure the view from the park and also increase traffic, noise and pollution.

Signs protesters displayed at a rally to oppose the planned expansion of the Centerm Terminal on Saturday, June 11, 2016. Protesters say the $320 million project would obscure views from the park and damage the environment. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

"This is a park that our community fought long and hard for," she told the crowd at the rally on Saturday. "People actually camped out in this crown land before it became a park to say that we want this park for the people of the community and we will pretty much do anything to get this park." 

The Port of Vancouver is the busiest in Canada and the Centerm container terminal handles approximately one-fifth of the goods shipped in containers through Vancouver.

This is what the Centerm Terminal and Crab Park look like today. (Google Maps)
The proposed expansion at the Centerm terminal. (Port of Vancouver)

The expansion project is being spearheaded by Centerm's private operator DP World Vancouver.

On its website, it says the project is in the "preliminary design phase" and must still undergo the Port of Vancouver's project and environmental review process before any work begins.

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